Myanmar has been the fastest growing backpacking destination in Southeast Asia since the country opened up. Compared to its welcoming neighbors in Southeast Asia, it’s still a more difficult and frustrating place to visit. However, its special charm can attract any traveler getting there. If you want to make your Myanmar travel on a budget, you may wonder how to make your Burma tours itinerary so that your trip is really exciting and economical. As a result, we recommend a popular Myanmar travel route chosen by a large number of backpackers in the world.
Time needed: ¾ week
Possible budget: 650 USD
The general Myanmar travel route: Yagon – Bago – Pyay – Bagan – Inle Lake – Hsipaw – Pyin Oo Lwin – Mandalay
Yangon (3/4 days)
In your Myanmar travel itinerary, Yangon should be the first stop as it’s the largest city and main economic centre in Myanmar. Under British, Chinese and Indian influences, the city has its intriguing history and unique culture. You can visit wonderful pagodas and religious sites, as well as the house of Aung San Suu Kyi where she had stay for many years under house arrest.
Recommended accommodation: 20th Street Hostel, Yangon
Getting from Yangon to Bago: By bus or train
New (1 day)
You can travel to Bago as a day trip from Yangon or stay overnight. Even which way you choose is, you will need to come back to Yangon to continue your journey by catching the train north. Bago is characterized by numerous pagodas; however, if you are not so interested in Buddhist/religious, you can skip this destination as Bagan is far more impressive.
Getting from Bago to Pyay (In fact, it is Yangon – Pyay route): By train (9 hours), by bus (7 hours) for 4-5 USD
Pyay (1/2 days)
Pyay is a small town on the Ayeyarwady River. There’s not a great deal to see there, but its peaceful and tranquil atmosphere is really suitable for a short trip by bike to discover a rarely visited part of Myanmar.
Getting from Pyay to Bagan: By bus (10-13 USD)
Bagan (3/4 days)
Bagan may be the most iconic image of Burma. It has the largest and most extensive collection of Buddhist pagodas, temples, and ruins in the world. In addition to visiting religious sites, you can witness monk and Monkees initiation ceremonies or hire about to discover the river. A day trip to nearby Mount Popa is a good idea to enjoy the freshness of green trees there.
Getting from Bagan to Inle Lake: by bus
Bagan – Shwenyaung route: 10 hours for 22 USD
Bagan – Nuang Shwe route: Departure time at 7.30
Inle Lake (3 days)
This is another essential stop on almost every Myanmar travel route. The Inle Lake is one of four most important tourist destinations of Myanmar (along with Yangon, Bagan, and Mandalay). You can explore the stunning natural landscapes and the unique culture of many different tribes who live on the lake. In addition, the Inle Lake is the great place to buy various souvenirs.
Getting from Inle Lake to Hsipaw (Shwenyaung – Hsipaw): by bus in 12-15 hours for about 11 USD.
Hsipaw (2/3 days)
The town is located in a valley, offering some hiking opportunities. It has one of the best markets in Myanmar and is the starting point of the most spectacular rail journeys in the world, which is down to Pyin u Lwin.
Getting from Hsipaw to Pyin Oo Lwin: by train in about 6 hours.
Pyin Oo Lwin (2 days)
From the town, you can visit some local villages of Shan people and some magnificent waterfalls. The town retains a weird British cultural feature with colonial houses and horse and carriages.
Getting from Pyin Oo Lwin to Mandalay: by train in 5 hours
Mandalay (2/3 days)
Mandalay is the wonderful concluding point to your Myanmar travel route. This is the second largest city in Myanmar and although there is not quite as much to do as in Yangon, the city is very famous for the Royal Palace and its cultural diversity. Mandalay is the home to half of the monks in Burma.
Recommended accommodation: Four Rivers, Mandalay
With 8 stopovers, the Myanmar travel route for backpackers we recommended has covered most of the main tourist highlights in Burma, and it’s also quite convenient to follow. However, you can absolutely plan your Myanmar travel in a very different route, as long as it is suitable to your conditions.